A chill in the air means the holiday season is fast-approaching, beginning with Thanksgiving. It’s a time to give thanks for our families, friends, health and prosperity. We should also be thankful for a food system that provides a safe, affordable and abundant food supply.
Our Thanksgiving meal, whether the main course is turkey or tofurkey, is made possible by the dedicated people throughout the entire food chain – farmers, processors, grocers, and others – each of whom works hard to make it possible.
Since 1970, turkey consumption in the United States has increased by 102 percent. The ability of U.S. farmers to raise more birds using less land, water, and feed provides that turkey at Thanksgiving and year-round. In fact, from 1960 to 2010, the land required to produce all the meat, milk and eggs for every person in the U.S. declined by two-thirds.
Think about that. If you live in a home or work in a business built since 1960 there’s a pretty good chance that it sits on land that produced food 50 years ago. We used 10 million more acres to grow all major crops in 1960 than we do today. Without these improvements, more of our remaining natural areas would be under plow, not in communities, forests, parks, grasslands and recreational areas.
So this Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season, enjoy the fruits of the farmers’ labor. With continued improvement, it will remain the safest, most nutritious and affordable food supply in the world.
Charlie Arnot is the chief executive officer of the Center for Food Integrity, www.foodintegrity.org, a non-profit organization established to build consumer trust and confidence in today’s food system.